Google Now Offering “Remarketing” To All AdWords Advertisers

Last March Google initiated a trial of what it calls “remarketing” for display and text ads throughout its content network. Today it’s opening up the option for all AdWords advertisers. To be clear this is not “search retargeting” and doesn’t involve any query data.

The benefit of this is being able to reach consumers, throughout the Google content network (including on YouTube), who came to an advertiser’s website but didn’t transact. Pages can be tagged and cookies are used to identify that visitor or a category of people, who then later see an ad or offer directed specifically at their interests. The Google AdWords blog explains how it works:

Let’s say you’re a basketball team with tickets that you want to sell. You can put a piece of code on the tickets page of your website, which will let you later show relevant ticket ads (such as last minute discounts) to everyone who has visited that page, as they subsequently browse sites in the Google Content Network. In addition to your own site, you can also remarket to users who visited your YouTube brand channel or clicked your YouTube homepage ad.

You can also run a number of remarketing campaigns at the same time. For example, you could offer discount game tickets to users who’ve previously visited your tickets page, advertise VIP hospitality packages to users who clicked on your “How to get to the arena” page, and advertise a sale on team merchandise to users who previously visited your YouTube brand channel.

You might be inclined to call this “behavioral targeting” and so did I on the phone with Google yesterday. However, Google doesn’t like that term and finds it imprecise. In addition there’s a stigma associated with it among privacy groups and to some degree the FTC (and maybe some regulation coming in the near future). Thus Google uses the more positive term “Interest Based Advertising.”

Accordingly and in the same breath that Google discusses the benefits of remarketing it also points out its Ad Preferences Manager, which was the first such system to allow consumers to completely opt-out of any form of personalized or behavioral targeting. It also allows consumers to specify and refine the categories of ads they would like to see. Previously Google said that for every 15 people who click through to the privacy controls and preferences that “four users edit preferences, one opts out and 10 do nothing.”

In its PR materials Google includes quotes from advertisers that were part of the beta phase of remarketing about the system’s apparent effectiveness:

Michael Menis, Vice President of Global Interactive Marketing of the InterContinental Hotels Group, said: “Remarketing on the Google Content Network has been a great way to entice users who have already expressed interest in our hotels. We’ve found it to be such an effective solution that we’re increasing our investment in it.”  IHG uses remarketing

Paul Golden, Chief Marketing Officer of Samsung, said, “We saw very strong performance for our remarketing campaign for the Behold II. We were able to reach over 100,000 users who interacted with our YouTube Homepage Ad during Valentine’s Day, as they subsequently browsed the web.” to promote offers or incentives to users who had previously clicked on its hotel websites.

As mentioned this doesn’t work formally with Google search — Yahoo does do search retargeting by using queries to inform what display ads are shown throughout Yahoo — but it can work indirectly with search on Google.

A user searches on a query, “discount cruises to Mexico,” for example, and clicks through on a responsive ad. That person arrives at the advertiser’s site but later clicks away without making a purchase or taking some other desired action (it may be too “early” for them to buy). Search has effectively “found” or identified the user via the query and CTR, and brought that person to the advertiser’s site for tagging/targeting. That same individual could later be remarketed to using this system and potentially attracted by Google content ads that address the expressed interest in discount cruises.

In this way search and remarketing can be informally connected, giving marketers some interesting ways to target people “higher up in the funnel” and throughout the consumer research process.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Google: AdWords


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • FameFoundry

    If this matures and can be added to the search ads, it may prove useful. Search ad-active companies are paying attention, but this paradigm is falling short for the rest of business.

  • painperdu

    I’m really not concerned with my privacy, Google already knows more about me than I do. I do get annoyed, however, when I keep seeing the same ad over and over everywhere I go on the net. I had a very casual interest (curiosity, really) in a certain thing and now everywhere I go I see ads for it. There’s a very thin line between spam and too aggressive advertising.

  • Rebecca77

    I think this announcement can only mean good things for advertisers and consumers alike. Retargeting will help advertisers better target their audience and manage their campaigns much more efficiently, while consumers will now be exposed to promotions and discounts for products that they’re interested in and can actually use. And to answer concerns about privacy or “annoying” the customer, as long as you use tools like frequency caps this can be avoided. Overall, I think it’s a win-win.

    One thing I’d like to point out is that retargeting isn’t new, it’s just new to Adwords. The fact that Google is now utilizing this marketing technique just validates that it works. But it’s also important to note that Google’s content network for display ads is only the 6th largest so it’s important for advertisers to run across multiple networks. (Here’s a recent case study on this:

  • onlineperformancemarketing

    We were an early participant in Google’s “Remarketing Program” The following is a case study showing the effects of this new program, as well as a step by step how to implement in AdWords.

    Case Study Results

    After running the remarketing program for one of our clients, we found that when compared to the traditional content network our Click Through Rate increased 53%. We looked at our avg cost per click on remarketing vs. traditional search and spent 86% less per click. What we found to be the most significant factor was our cost per lead went down by 63% over traditional search leads. This doesn’t even include the “view through conversions” – which when added to the mix brought the cost per lead down by 88% over traditional search.

    Needless to say, the client is ecstatic!

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